Music should be a compelling experience for children, and mixing the right elements together can create connection to the world of song and sound. One way to achieve this is through making your students an active part of the music that you are showing them. For instance, if you are trying to help them learn to distinguish different instruments in a piece, try giving them an example to hook onto before you play it. Before class, pass out examples of each instrument to different students. In turn, each one strums it and the class says the name of the instrument together, doing this at least twice each time. Then, play the piece and ask the students what instrument they hear. You will be surprised at the improvement in the recognition of the students in picking out which one is played.
After the first round, have each student with an instrument pass it to someone else and play a different piece that varies in tempo and style. This practice not only sharpens their hearing, but helps them to connect to the music on a variety of levels. Your children that have different learning styles will also be engaged, as this activity makes use of visual, auditory, tactile, and other learning types. Handling, playing, listening, and engaging with the music in this manner makes connections that will foster a love of learning.
It is important to set up the activity so that each student has a chance to take part in the lesson by at least playing one instrument. If there is time, collect the instruments and allow the children to come up and experiment with them, ask questions, and trade. Learning how to hold, handle, and enjoy these creators of music will engage your students to music.